Adab 11: The Proprieties of Speech

Ustadh Tabraze Azam gives a detailed account of the adab or proprieties of speech according to the Sunna.

One day, a man was sitting with Qadi Abu Yusuf, a senior companion of Imam Abu Hanifa. After a period of extended silence, which was strange given that Qadi Abu Yusuf was the chief justice and an imam in Sacred Law (fiqh), and people wouldn’t usually remain silent around him for too long, the Qadi said to him, “Do you have a question?” The man, fearing a missed opportunity, mustered up enough courage to remark, “Of course! When does a person stop fasting?” Qadi Abu Yusuf replied, “When the sun sets,” The man paused for a moment, then said, “But what if the sun doesn’t set until half the night has passed?”

Sometimes, silence is just better. The Beloved Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, gave us a central principle with respect to speech when he said, “Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, then let him say the good or remain silent.” (Muslim) In fact, there are so many traditions (ahadith) which point out the risks of speaking without due thought, and more importantly, need, that anybody who reads them regularly would begin to fear for his hereafter. In an age of social media where everybody has a voice, it’s imperative that we take a moment to step back, recall what our Lord wants from us, and recognise that we have two ears and one tongue, namely, that our listening should be twice as much as our speech.

1. The Rulings of Speech

The first thing to remember is that speech, like all other actions, has rulings. When the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, told our Master Mu‘adh to “Restrain this,” namely, the tongue, he replied, “Will we be taken to task for what we say?” The striking, vivid, prophetic answer should suffice all of us as a reminder of the danger and harm we can reap with our tongues: “Is there anything that topples people on their faces – or he said their noses – into the Hellfire other than the harvests of their tongues?” (Tirmidhi)

Thus, speech may be divided into that which is (1) obligatory, (2) recommended, (3) permissible, (4) disliked, and (5) unlawful. 

Obligatory speech is speaking up to command the good, or to correct the wrong by forbidding some vice, when the conditions have been met. Remaining silent in such cases would be impermissible, just as actually engaging in wrongful speech is impermissible. Examples of the latter include engaging in slander, talebearing, lying, and the like of which we’ll see more of shortly.  Similarly, fulfilling many of the rights of your fellow believers is mandatory, such as responding to their greeting of salam, or praying for them after they’ve sneezed, for instance. 

It is recommended to speak when the speech will be recitation of the Qur’an, other remembrances (adhkar), or supplication for oneself or another. Another praiseworthy action is bringing joy to the heart of a fellow believer, or simply saying something pleasant to him because this is a form of “charity.” (Bukhari) On the other hand, it is disliked to speak whilst (a) using the bathroom, (b) undressed, or (c) engaged in intimate relations and the like. Likewise, it is unbecoming to speak when the benefit in doing so isn’t clear, or to speak during discouraged times such as after the nightfall prayer (‘isha). 

As for permitted speech, it is that which is devoid of any resultant reward or sin. An example would be to ask somebody to bring you some tea, or to tell your child to avoid something harmful. Of course, whenever the permissible is conjoined with an intention for Allah Most High, it transitions from the merely permissible to the recommended. 

2. The Golden Rule of Silence

Some of the scholars explained that speech is of four types: (a) harmful, (b) beneficial, (c) harmful and beneficial, and (d) not harmful nor beneficial. Eternal consequences matter, and whenever something harmful and beneficial conjoins, the harm is considered to preponderate over any potential good. Accordingly, this rules out two types of speech. As for that which is not harmful nor beneficial, it is unnecessary and a waste of one’s effort and energy as one finds oneself in the loss of Sura al-‘Asr. The only thing left is beneficial speech and even that has otherworldly danger, namely, because it may lead to showing-off or pride or other blameworthy traits. 

It behooves anybody, then, to recognize that speech should only be used when there is some good in it. If you don’t have anything good to say, you should remain silent as this is the sunna. Interestingly, the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, instructed us to say the good, not the truth. Now, this isn’t permission to lie, obviously, but it gives us something of prophetic wisdom to work with. The prescriptions of the Sacred Law are always beneficial to us, whether we can see the good in them or not. Many of the early Muslims had much to offer in terms of directing believers towards silence. So twenty years from now, and when your husband asks how he looks in what used to be his wedding suit, be kind!

Imam Qushayri writes in his Risala that silence is the basis. But speaking when there is a manifest need is the manner of real men (namely, in the spiritual sense, so it applies equally to women.) He continues by stating that Abu ‘Ali al-Daqqaq, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Whosoever remains silent when truth is required is a blind devil.” Therefore, when speech is required, you must speak.

3. Excellence in Speech

We were directed to observe excellence in all of our dealings. Consequently, excellence, or ihsan, towards ourselves and others entails that we speak normally with others, without trying to put on heirs. Moderation, too, is generally the emblem of piety. When speaking, avoid being too loud or too quiet, or speaking too quickly or slowly, or speaking sternly when encouraging towards the good and with gentleness when warning against evil. However, this latter point must be contextualized and stated in the correct manner lest that it be a means of pushing people away from religion. Moreover, and as an aside, the sunna is to be attentive to the speaker whilst he is speaking as this nurtures respect and minimizes unbecoming outcomes from “hearing” things that weren’t said or other misunderstandings.

Equally, it is important to train oneself to see the good in things and speak accordingly, turning a blind eye to the ugly. Allah Most High says, “When they come across falsehood, they pass it by with dignity.” (Sura al-Furqan 25:72) It is reported that some of the disciples were walking with the Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, and they came across the carcass of a dog. One of the disciples then remarked, “What an awful stench!” The Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, said, “It would have been better if you had said: ‘How white its teeth are!’” Regardless of the soundness of the report, we can learn something about dignity from it. 

In the same vein, one of the righteous used to say “good morning” to wild pigs and stray dogs that he passed, and when asked about it, he commented that he was getting himself accustomed to saying the good! It is also reported that a group of the corrupt were paddling by in a stream besides Ma‘ruf al-Karkhi and his companions. The companions asked Ma‘ruf to pray against them as they were drinking wine and playing unlawful instruments. So they raised their hands, and Ma‘ruf said, “O Lord, make them glee with joy in the hereafter as you have made them joyful in this life.” Astonished, they asked him how he could make such a supplication given the impermissible they were engaged in. He replied, “Their rejoicing in the hereafter will come about because of their repentance in this life.” May Allah be pleased with him!

The Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “If a person says, ‘People have gone to ruin,’ he is the most ruined of them all.” (Muslim) How so? Because of his conceitedness with respect to his state and actions, and his causing believers to despair from Allah Most High’s mercy. 

Another sunna is to be brief with one’s words so as to speak only to the extent of the need. Going beyond that can lead to situations which may comprise one’s religious comportment, or worse, make one say something which will be a source of later regret. Note, as previously explained by Imam Qushayri, speaking is the dispensation, or rukhsa, so the basis is in using it sparingly or at least with wisdom. There is nothing like safety, as Imam Nawawi, may Allah be pleased with him, noted. 

4. Self-Control in Speech

When clear benefit has been ascertained, the sunna is to engage others with excellence, holding oneself to standards of decency that befit a believer who is striving to emulate his Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and especially if he claims love. As such, foul language needs to be completely shunned, not only because it is impermissible and interdicted, but because it is at odds with the manner, or adab, a strong, faithful believer is trying to uphold. The Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “The believer is not given to reviling, cursing, obscenity, or vulgarity.” (Tirmidhi) If you are habituated to using such language, ask Allah Most High to free you from its shackles and grant you the ability to express joy or disappointment in a manner that is pleasing to Him. 

Modesty is from faith,” (Bukhari) said the Beloved Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. The way of the Qur’an and the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is to avoid explicit references to matters that are unbecoming, such as when referring to the nakedness (‘awra). This is why the Qur’an alludes to the publicly undignified, specifically in the context of ablution (wudu) and cleanliness, and also intimate relations, by saying, “But if you are ill, on a journey, or have relieved yourselves, or have been intimate with your wives and cannot find water, then purify yourselves with clean earth.” (Sura al-Ma’ida 5:6) The scholars explain that a proper islamic education brings about a sense of refined decorum and modesty which prevents a person from mentioning certain things inappropriately and without express need. 

When it comes to self-control, a number of matters require attention. Unsurprisingly, these are the matters whose implications are religiously quite serious, namely, oaths, vows, promises and divorce. If you find yourself making too many oaths or promises, or threatening your spouse with divorce, you need to work on your self-restraint. Neglecting promises is one of the signs of hypocrisy, and failing to uphold the contents of oaths has expiatory consequences. But neither is encouraged unless you have the full conviction to carry out what you say, and the details of both may be sought elsewhere. The Companions (sahaba) were people of their word, and this is one of the traits of true believers. 

5. Unlawful Speech 

Something that was touched upon earlier was the impermissibility of certain types of speech. Practically, this means that it is not permitted to engage in any of it without a genuine, shari‘a-countenanced reason. The honour of your fellow believer is sacred and inviolable, as our Beloved Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed us. (Muslim

Generally, there are two types of impermissible speech: that which relates to another, and that which relates to yourself. The former is more dangerous because it affects the rights of others, and its harm may reach you in the hereafter. The Blessed Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “The bankrupt from amongst my community is the one who will come on Judgement Day with his prayers, fasts and alms, yet he swore at so and so, wrongfully accused so and so…” (Tirmidhi) The remainder of this lengthy tradition (hadith) apprises us that those wronged will come to receive their rights by taking this person’s good deeds. For anybody who believes in the reality of the hereafter and divine justice, this should make us all at least think twice or three times before reeling off a word or two by which one falls into the divine wrath. (Bukhari)

The types of speech which fall into this category are numerous, but some of the most important to keep in mind are as follows: (1) slander (ghiba), namely, to mention a fellow believer in their absence with words that they would dislike; (2) talebearing (namima), namely, saying words which worsen relations between people, or that which entails the divulging of something private; and (3) lying (kadhib), namely, to deliberately say something false. Finally, one of the cancers affecting the community of believers (umma) is anathema (takfir). This is something that must be left for the Muslim judge (qadi), or at the very least, senior jurisconsults (muftis), because ordinary people do not understand subtleties and intricate rulings. Condemning people to the Hellfire is extremely dangerous, the peril of which is palpable for everybody to see, both in our times and in recent history. 

6. Dignified Joking and Jest 

The condition for the permissibility of joking is that it is free of lying. Thereafter, it should be in moderation, like with all things, and it should certainly not turn into mockery or ridicule. Insulting one’s fellow believers is not permissible as many verses and traditions attest to. When free from the undignified, making believers laugh, bringing joy to their hearts and putting a smile on their face is a tremendous action worthy of a huge reward, particularly when coupled with an intention for Allah Most High. There are a number of traditions (ahadith) which record the humour and joking of the Beloved Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. 

We pray that the All-Merciful overlooks our many shortcomings, increases us in presence and sincere following, and grants us the clarity and capacity to make speech-judgements that are in line with our next-worldly goals and hopes. All blessing and facilitation is from Him, Most High.

And Allah alone gives success.


Adab 10: The Proprieties of Food and Sleep

Ustadh Tabraze Azam gives a detailed account of the adab or proprieties of eating and sleeping according to the Sunna.


Imam Sha‘rani, the masterful gnostic of the inward sciences, noted that it may well be that the eternal divine pleasure of Allah Most High is found in an act of worship which most people are unconcerned with because of its relative insignificance; and on the other hand, the divine wrath may encircle a relatively meager sin, namely, in the eyes of people. The sunna in its entirety is important, as indicated in the words of the lawgiver, “And don’t deem anything of the good to be insignificant.” (Muslim) Allah Most High cares about the details, especially occasions where heedlessness is normally rife, and when you strive to be gratefully and gracefully prophetic, in whatever capacity you are able, He increases you in wondrous degrees.

One of the great blessings of life is food, so much so, that it serves as a reminder of one of the joys of the hereafter. Allah Most High says, “They will also be served any fruit they choose and meat from any bird they desire.” (Sura al-Waqi‘a 56:20-21) And the gift of rest is not lost on any of us! “And one of His signs is your sleep by night.” (Sura al-Rum 30:23) It is worth noting that food and sleep are mere means, and do not intrinsically cause satiation nor rest. Rather, it is Allah Most High’s creative act at work. But He has commanded that you take the means, as exemplified by His Beloved Emissary, Allah bless him and give him peace, so we strive to do so as servants seeking to attain unto the divine good pleasure in this life before the next.

1. Eating with Mindfulness

The first thing to keep in mind is the magnitude of the blessing that is food. To be fortunate enough to simply sit with a bowl of food in front of you is sufficient enough as a divine favor. Intend Allah Most High therein, by making His worship your primary aim in eating from the sustenance He has bestowed upon you. Clearly, there are many secondary intentions which may be made at this point, such as gaining strength to fulfill your obligations, to assist those in need, to increase in gratitude, and so on and so forth.

The Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, instructed us to wash our hands before eating because it brings about “blessings” (Tirmidhi), and to recite the basmala, ideally with the aforementioned presence of mind, heart and soul, “In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate (bismi Llahi Rahmani Rahim).” Some of the righteous would encourage the pronouncement of the short form of the basmala (bismi Llah) with each bite! Proceed to eat with your right hand, unless you have an excuse, as the right is used for noble matters. But there’s no harm in using your left to assist with eating and drinking whenever there is a need.

Once you’re done, you should end with a supplication of praise and wash your hands thereafter. It is reported that the Noble Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Praise be to Allah who has fed us, given us to drink, and made us Muslims (alhamdu li Llahi ‘lladhi at‘amana wa saqana wa ja‘alana min al-muslimin).” (Abu Dawud)

2. Eating in Moderation

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed us that the worst container a human being can fill is his stomach. (Tirmidhi) Accordingly, the sunna is to eat with restraint, and not out of mere desire or fulfillment. The prophetic encouragement was to reserve, “A third for your food, a third for your drink, and a third for your breath.” (ibid.) And as some of the righteous point out, everybody knows their own third! Nevertheless, it is permitted to eat until you are full, and praiseworthy if coupled with genuine, righteous intentions.

It’s also proper to eat when you’re hungry, and not to delay a meal until you are starving. The latter, more often than not, will be a distraction and lead to the kind of covetousness and heedlessness the lawgiver was seeking to direct us away from. It’s important to eat slowly and with dignity. You were created to worship, not eat, but this doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy food. On the contrary, we actually know some of the favored foods of the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and on occasion, he would praise food too.

3. Eating with Sunna

From the guidance of the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, was to eat from the side of the plate “and not from its middle” (Abu Dawud) because the “blessing descends in the middle.” (ibid.) This is of particular importance when eating from a shared platter, but equally, may also be implemented in your own, individual plate so that the blessing can continue to descend throughout your meal. Of course, if there are multiple types of food, or parts to the dish, this is excusable, as the recommendation is in the case that the food is of the same type.

One should avoid any form of disrespect toward the food, or any wastage of it whatsoever. This is considered to be a form of ingratitude (kufran al-ni‘ma), and showing such disregard for a tremendous blessing makes one liable to losing it altogether. Further, it is imperative to ensure that you do not use any utensils made of gold or silver. Note that the gold and silver in question is that which is comprised of more than fifty percent of those metals. Otherwise, cutlery or dishes would take the ruling of the preponderating metal used in the alloy.

Blowing on hot food in order to cool it down is acceptable, if without sound, but best avoided unless there is a need because it is indicative of haste and blameworthy covetousness. Moreover, it is reported that eating uncomfortably hot food is a means of its blessing leaving. So what’s proper, then, is to allow the food to cool, and eat when it’s comfortable to do so.

Licking your fingers after eating is also from the sunna because you “don’t know in which part of your food the blessing lies.” (Muslim) Again, remember there is a sunna, or an adab, of the sunna itself. If this isn’t realized, people can often conflate strange or unbecoming behaviour with sunna merely because the words match up. It is important to learn and appreciate true adab lest you ascribe something ugly to the Noble Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. Finally, using a toothpick or the like is also established prophetic practice, if there is a need for it.

4. Sunna Drinking

The sunna is to begin drinking with the basmala, namely, the same manner in which you begin eating, holding the glass in your right hand. Our Master ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be well-pleased with him) reported that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Don’t drink in one [breath] like a camel, but drink [in pauses] twice or thrice.” (Tirmidhi) Try to drink with pauses, thanking Allah Most High each time you move the vessel away from your mouth. Further, it is proper to drink in sips and not gulps, which incidentally, facilitates pausing. Gulping is contrary to dignity and it is thus a mannerism disapproved of by the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Sitting to drink is a recommended sunna, and it is improper, yet not religiously wrong nor sinful, to stand without excuse. There are two notable exceptions, however. When drinking the blessed water of ZamZam, the practice of the Noble Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, was to stand in order to drink as much as possible. As a matter of fact, the sunnas of drinking ZamZam are generally the opposite of regular water, perhaps in order to distinguish it for its blessed nature. The same actually applies to the leftover water of the ritual ablution (wudu), for it contains a blessing by virtue of the act of worship which was performed with it.

Importantly, men and women should avoid drinking each others’ leftover water, unless they are spouses or unmarriageable kin (mahram) to one another, as it is something which can arouse sexual desire. This is why the jurists deem it to be generally disliked (makruh).

5. Sleeping with Mindfulness

Just as with food, and in fact, just as with anything, you should make an intention before sleeping. The secret to success in intentions is to direct them to Allah Most High. After that, make secondary intentions which will help you attain unto that one, central point. Thus, intend to strengthen your body for worship, for example, and to give the body its right. “Indeed, your eye has a right over you,” (Bukhari) remarked the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, when he was informed of somebody who was regularly staying up through the night in devoted worship.

Before sleep, you should perform the ritual ablution (wudu), and spend a few moments reciting the prophetic supplications and remembrances (adhkar). There are numerous supplicatory utterances established in the sunna, but a simple formulation is: “O Allah, by Your name I die and I live (allahumma bismika amutu wa ahya).” (Bukhari) Similarly, it is recommended to recite Suras: Ikhlas, Falaq and Nas, and to also recite the tasbih (Subhan Allah), tahmid (Alhamdu li Llah) and takbir (Allahu akbar), thirty-three, thirty-three and thirty-four times respectively.

Then, repent for your missteps and erroneous ways so that if your soul is taken that night, your slate will be clean. Repentance takes only a moment of sincerity. And also try to sleep without anything in your heart against your fellow believers, a trait that famously astounded our Master ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, may Allah be well-pleased with him, when he diligently observed one of the Companions who was prophetically singled out as a person of Paradise.

Next, lie on your right side, on a bed that is not too hard nor too soft, with your right hand under your cheek, facing the qibla. If it’s not comfortable for you, do it for a few moments, and ask Allah Most High to bless you with an increase in sunna in your life. Avoid sleeping on the stomach as it is a posture disliked by Allah Most High, the posture of the inhabitants of the Fire – may Allah protect us all. Of course, if you have an excuse or a reason to do so, then it would be fine, but the basis is that when you have a choice, you don’t choose this posture over others.

6. Sunna Sleep

One of the wonders of the prophetic sunna is the encouragement to take a midday nap (qaylula), ideally at some point between the Islamic midday (al-dahwa al-kubra) and the entry of the noon prayer (zuhr). The exception to this would be Fridays, where the scholars recommend doing so after the Friday prayer (salat al-jumu‘a). Our Master Sahl ibn Sa‘d, may Allah be well-pleased with him, commented, “We didn’t used to take midday naps nor eat our morning meals, except after the Friday prayer.” (Bukhari) If you cannot do anything more due to work or other commitments, laying down with your eyes closed for a few moments would minimally suffice.

You should also keep in mind that propriety in sleeping entails avoiding the disliked times, usually the kind of times which could lead a person to miss the congregation, or worse, the prayer entirely. According to some scholars, sleep after the mid-afternoon prayer (‘asr) is disliked, but Imam Tahawi explained that the soundest traditions (ahadith) actually permit sleep at this time. Sleep after the sunset prayer (maghrib) is particularly cautioned against, and the same principle applies to sleep after the entry of dawn (fajr). Generally, once the prayer time enters, a concerned believer would first pray, as he cannot rest with ease otherwise, and then consider sleeping.

If you experience something frightening in a dream, you should keep it to yourself, seek refuge in Allah Most High from the accursed devil, and then blow thrice to your left side. (Bukhari) If you see something noble, you may tell others about it, but it isn’t ideal to be distracted by dreams from the reality of your life. Dreams are only normally meaningful when godfearingness (taqwa) and piety (birr) permeates your being. Of course, there is a place for dreams, but the most important thing is the whereabouts of the Sacred Law (shari‘a) in your life. Good dreams don’t take people to Paradise.

We ask Allah Most High to increase us in love and following, that we be genuine in our concern, sincere and true in our emulation, and that we be joined with the Greatest Emissary, Allah bless him and give him peace, in the next life, for eternity.

And Allah alone gives success.



Adab 07: The Proprieties of Earning a Living

Ustadh Tabraze Azam dives deep into the proprieties of earning a lawful income, its virtues, and its rewards in this life and in the life to come.

The trustworthy, honest trader will be with the prophets, the truthful, and the martyrs [on the Day of Judgement], said the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. (Tirmidhi)

When we live up to the ideals and deep, moral standards of the religion, we can be hopeful of something tremendous from Allah in the hereafter. After all, this life is merely a means to the next, and not an end-goal in and of itself. Earning a livelihood is something that most of us can probably relate to, but our fast-paced lives, however, can sometimes hinder our ability to simply pause for a moment and review our trajectory into eternity. Seldom is a moment of contemplation void of any lasting benefit when it is for Allah.

As we try to reconnect with our faith and live it more faithfully, with propriety, we should recall the words of Allah in which He informs us that He “made the day for livelihood.” (Sura al Naba’ 78:11) Thus, it is Allah’s favor upon us by which we are blessed with days in which we can fulfill the purpose of that time. A believer is a “son of his moment,” namely, somebody concerned with being in the right places at the right times, and doing what will be most pleasing to Allah therein. With gratitude, we can come to appreciate the most menial of tasks, and with gratitude, Allah increases us in ways we couldn’t otherwise imagine.

With this in mind, let us now turn our attention to some of the proper manners to be upheld in seeking a living for Allah.

Righteous Intentions (Niyya Saliha)

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, reminded us that a believer’s intention is better than his action or work itself (Bayhaqi, Shu‘ab al-Iman). Accordingly, getting our intentions right will ensure that we receive a splendid, unspeakable reward from Allah Most High even if we’re not prosperous, even if we don’t fulfil our hopes and dreams and even if it simply wasn’t meant to be. This is a huge mercy.

What, then, should we intend? Above all, to seek the pleasure of Allah Most High as this is the point of life itself. When you have such a noble intention, the most mundane of tasks can transform into something sacred. But given the difficulty of maintaining such a lofty state, the scholars recommend having secondary intentions which act as the pathways to the central intention.

Thus, intend to:

    1. 1) abstain from begging,


    1. 2) abstain from coveting what others have,


    1. 3) become financially strong and independent,


    1. 4) provide for your dependants,


    1. 5) uphold the values and ethics of the Sacred Law of integrity, commanding the good and otherwise,


    1. 6) fulfil a personal and a communal obligation (fard ‘ayn/kifaya),


    1. 7) make regular charitable donations,


    8) be of service to Allah’s creation, and similarly any other intention that comes to mind of virtuous matters.

Reliance (Tawakkul) upon Allah Most High

Our Master ‘Umar, Allah be pleased with him, reported that Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “If you relied upon Allah as He should be relied upon, He would give you sustenance just as the birds are given sustenance: they leave hungry in the morning, and return satiated in the evening.” (Tirmidhi) He, Allah bless him and give him peace, also told the Bedouin man who asked about the manner of true reliance (tawakkul) to “tie the camel, and then rely upon Allah.” (Tirmidhi)

Reliance, as defined by Jurjani in his Ta‘rifat, is confidence and contentment with what is Allah’s, and despair with respect to what is in the hands of people. Namely, realising that Allah alone is the sole doer, and consequently, that it is not people who will prevent your livelihood from reaching you as they are intrinsically incapable and needy. Rather, He is the Sufficer (al-Wakil), and He alone gives and constricts as He wills. So what’s the point of taking the means? Because the lawgiver commanded it.

True reliance upon Allah isn’t negated by taking the means as the two matters are distinct. Reliance upon Allah is a state of the heart whereas taking the means (asbab) is an action of the limbs. When the two are conjoined, the fullest and truest meaning of reliance is realised. And this is why Imam Birgivi wrote, “Taking the outward means which normally lead to the outcomes desired doesn’t negate reliance at all, and this is why earning a living is an obligation.” (Al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya)

Practizing a Lawful and Dignified Trade

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, instructed us, “No one eats any food better than the one who eats from what he earns by work of his own hands. The Prophet of Allah, Dawud, peace be upon him, used to eat from what he earned by the work of his own hands.” (Bukhari) Note that this is a metaphor for earning a living and not that the best line of work is carpentry, baking or any other work in which the hands are directly used! Moreover, the Prophet Dawud, Allah bless him and give him peace, wasn’t in need of such work and wealth as he was the Caliph of the entire earth at the time. However, the tradition (hadith) informs us of the nobility of the rank of working and his desire to do what was superior and more pleasing to Allah Most High.

When choosing a line of work, look for the kind of opportunities which you are deeply interested in, and also allow you to fulfill your potential, yet at the same time, don’t infringe upon any of your religious obligations. Primarily, this latter point entails that your very line of work needs to be lawful. Engaging in, encouraging or abetting sin is destructive to your hereafter. Keep such lines of work at a healthy distance so that you don’t have to explain yourself, or worse, bear the consequences, later. If you’re unsure regarding the legality or otherwise of your work, you should consult a reliable scholar before making any serious decisions.

Avoiding the Unlawful (Haram) and Offensive (Makruh)

The basis in transactions is the verse of the Qur’an, “You who believe, do not wrongfully consume each other’s wealth but trade by mutual consent.” (Sura al Nisa’ 4:29) The masterful Ottoman Qur’anic exegete, Abu al-Su‘ud Effendi, clarified that “wrongfully” means anything that is contrary to the Sacred Law, whether that is by way of theft, misappropriation, deception, gambling, engaging in usurious dealings, or anything else that the Sacred Law interdicted.

Our religion encourages us to engage in trade, but it is imperative that we avoid the kind of unethical behavior that many, unfortunately, fall into, let alone sin. The recognition that lack of clarity in transactions leads to unnecessary disputes and argumentation, for example, should move us to do something about it. Appreciate that things sometimes go wrong so be clear with one another about the terms of your agreement so that you don’t lose each other in mere worldliness. The way out, then, is to be grounded in sufficient law, or fiqh, which will ensure that you don’t fall into the religiously blameworthy or unlawful altogether.

As part of a longer tradition, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Do not be resentfully envious of one another, do not artificially inflate prices against one another, do not loathe one another, do not give a cold shoulder to one another, do not undercut one another in business transactions, but be, servants of Allah, brothers.” (Muslim)

Learning A Trade Well (Itqan) and Doing A Good Job (Ihsan)

Allah Most High says, “Indeed, We granted David a great privilege from Us, commanding: ‘O mountains! Echo his hymns! And the birds as well.’ We made iron mouldable for him, instructing: ‘Make full-length armor, perfectly balancing the links. And work righteousness O family of David! Indeed, I am All-Seeing of what you do.’” (Sura Saba 34:10-11) Something we can take away from this latter verse is the Divine injunction to the Prophet Dawud, Allah bless him and give him peace, to perfect his trade and not simply to produce something that others couldn’t.

Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, continually guiding us to what Allah loves, is reported to have once stated, “Allah is pleased when any of you does some action and perfects it.” (Tabarani) One of the hallmarks of believers is that they work, not only to produce, but to beautify. The trait of excellence, or ihsan, is deeply rooted in tradition and a foundational principle of the prophetic way. Practically, if you’re doing something, do it well. Don’t sell yourself short, and be an example to others in the trade, particularly when you are noticeably religious in societies where Islam is something unfamiliar.

Exhibiting Mercy (Rahma) and Other Praiseworthy Traits in Dealings

Whether you run your own business or work for another, you should always try to keep your heart in the right place, and at the same time, exhibit what you can of lofty, prophetic character traits. Taking it easy with people, particularly with those of lesser means, is a sure way of attaining the great good foretold by the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah reported that Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “May Allah show mercy to a man who is generous and easy-going when he sells, when he buys and when he asks for settlement.” (Bukhari)

Use the opportunity of work to remember your Lord and reset your intentions. Imam Sha‘rani related that his teacher and guide, ‘Ali al-Khawass, used to supplicate to Allah upon opening his store every morning, “O Lord, make this a means of benefiting your creation.”

Likewise, there is great virtue in remembering Allah in the marketplaces or in places of general heedlessness. Make it a point to say the takbir (Allahu akbar), tahmid (Alhamdu li Llah), tahlil (La ilaha illa Llah) and tasbih (Subhana Llah) at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon in seeking the closeness of Allah Most High. If you have more motivation, you can recite the blessed words of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, “There is no god but Allah. He is alone and has no partner. To Him belongs sovereignty and to Him belongs all praise. He gives life and He gives death. He is alive and does not die. In His hand is all good, and He has power over all things.” (Tirmidhi)

Giving from What You Love: Charity (Sadaqa) and the Afterlife

Allah Most High says, “You will never achieve righteousness until you donate some of what you cherish. And whatever you give is certainly well known to Allah.” (Sura Al-‘Imran, 3:92) Further, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed us that charity is a “proof.” (Muslim) A proof of what? Faith. When you give, you are showing your deep certitude and faith in Allah Most High, in the truth of the prophetic message, in the veracity of the hereafter and everything that entails.

The best of giving is when it is selfless, sincerely for Allah and swiftly forgotten. Consistent donations, even if only slight, are superior to sporadic payments, even if large. Charity wards off calamities, wipes out sins, cleanses and purifies wealth and draws you nearer to your Ever-Merciful Lord.

Finally, it behooves us to recognize that the reality of earning a living is that it is Allah Most High who is the Provider (al-Razzaq). The wage which you earn is merely a means which He has created, and, at the end of the day, He is the one who creates sustenance (rizq) through it. So although wealth may sometimes come and go, know that it doesn’t intrinsically aid one.

The ultimate objective is to be ever-cognizant of the Divine, and to travel toward Him with a deep desire to live an ethical, pleasing life: the kind of life the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) directed us towards. “Say, O Prophet, ‘If you sincerely love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’” (Sura Aal ‘Imran, 3:31)

And Allah alone gives success.

Adab 06: The Adab of the Mosque Pt II

Ustadh Tabraze Azam reminds is of the honor Allah has bestowed upon the mosque as a place of worship and the importance of right conduct in it.

Allah Most High says:

Light upon light! Allah guides whoever He wills to His light. And Allah sets forth parables for humanity. For Allah has perfect knowledge of all things. That light shines through houses of worship which Allah has ordered to be raised, and where His Name is mentioned. He is glorified there morning and evening. (Sura al Nur 24:35-36)

Proper manners take time to inculcate. But the more sacred the space or setting, the greater the emphasis is in maintaining a high bar. Each time we display something of a higher level of religion, and thank Allah for it, He increases us out of His generosity. Each time we apply ourselves to a deeper level of excellence, it only shows Allah Most High that we truly care and that His religion is certainly something very dear to us.

“And whoever honours the symbols of Allah, it is certainly out of the piety of the heart.” (Sura al Hajj 22:32) A heart stationed between regular gratitude for Allah’s blessings and a look to the eternal life is the kind of heart that is moved to work righteous deeds, even if only seemingly slight.

With this in mind, let us now turn to the remainder of the proper manners (adab) and sunnas relating to mosques, the houses of Allah Most High.

Sanctity: Physical and Spiritual

One matter which must be remembered at all times is that the mosque has a sanctity (hurma). Upholding this entails that we keep it not only physically clean, which is obvious, but spiritually clean too, namely, from distractions and matters which disturb the stillness and serenity therein. Accordingly, young children who don’t understand the concept of what a mosque or prayer is should be left at home. If there is a need for them to be present, they should be kept beside you so that they can be reminded to remain quiet.

Similarly, you should take a moment to ensure that your phone is muted or turned off as you enter the mosque. It is unbecoming to enter into a sacred space of worshipers and then disturb them with, sometimes, unfortunate ringtones. This is much more emphatic when it occurs during the prayer, so you should use slight movements to quiet down the phone if it happens.

If the phone is away from you, you may need to break the prayer lest it cause further annoyance to the other praying persons. Needless to say, the same would apply to an inconsolable child. Infringing upon the rights of others is a serious matter.

Public Lessons, Sermons, and Recitation

Generally, recitation is something which is a private matter. There is, however, benefit in louder recitation which has a more powerful effect on the heart, mind and soul as more limbs take part in the process. If you would like to recite aloud, you should choose an appropriate place to sit, away from those who are praying and others who may be engaged in worship. The basis is that the mosque is for private devotion so you should be careful that your recitation doesn’t unknowingly become something else.

The exception is when there are public events such as the weekly Friday sermon, or the occasional marriage ceremony (nikah) – depending on the time of year! – or the ‘eid sermon. When such sermons begin, it is not permitted to talk or pray until, depending on circumstance, the sermon or prayer ends. Other public lessons or events in appointed times are also exempted from the general rule and you should strive to give the speaker the respect due.

Worldly Activities

Part of maintaining the dignity of this sacred space is ensuring that we don’t violate what is was made for by engaging in worldly affairs in it. Buying and selling in the mosque is something that was interdicted by the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, as the mosque isn’t supposed to be a kind of marketplace, even if you entered to pray. (Abu Dawud) So that book you wanted from Amazon will have to wait some minutes!

In the same way, eating and drinking was generally inappropriate as it is distracting, brings in smells and affects the entire space. But this doesn’t negate the fact that the one who is engaged in a spiritual retreat (mu’takif) is in fact permitted to do these things because he is bound to stay in the mosque. Otherwise, activities other than prayer, remembrance, recitation and other devotion is best done elsewhere.

Obeying the Imam (Wali al Amr)

The basis is to obey those who have authority over one in a particular context. Putting aside the legal nuances, the general idea is that, for example, you should listen well to the host when he directs you, as the guest, to your seat or the food.

Similarly, the imam of the mosque is working within his capacity as the authority figure and he should be obeyed when he orders the rows to be straightened, gaps to be filled or appoints somebody to lead the prayer on his behalf, namely, those matters which are in the greater interests of everybody within the mosque and taking part in the congregational prayer.

All of these matters are within his domain and he has a right to choose as he sees fit. Nevertheless, when he is mistaken, he remains a fellow believer who deserves dignity, respect and sincere counsel (nasiha), so it should be afforded to him with full and proper decorum.

The Call to Prayer (Adhan)

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “When it is time for prayer, let one of you give the adhan.” (Bukhari) This is one of the strongest of the sunnas of our religion and a sign and marker of Islam itself. It is a means of reminding us of the pre-eternal call of the Divine and a reminder of the reality of life and the proximity of the Hereafter. So it behooves us to make it a point to become of those who “respond to Allah and His messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life.” (Sura al Anfal 8:24)

The one giving the call to prayer (adhan) should know the prayer times, face the qibla, be in a state of ritual purification, beautify his voice, and elongate the words, yet without exaggerating such that the adhan becomes very long.

The sunna of the one listening is to respond to the adhan by repeating the words after the caller. Then one and all should send blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and supplicate for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) to be granted the Station of Mediation (wasila).

Supplication upon Entering and Exiting

It from the sunna to supplicate when entering and leaving mosques. Imam Nawawi writes in his Book of Remembrances (al-Adhkar) that a person can recite the following supplication, for example, upon entering: “O Allah, open for me the doors of Your mercy’ (allahumma iftah li abwab rahmatik).” And upon leaving, he would say, “O Allah, I ask of You from Your bounty’ (Allahumma inni as’aluka min fadlik).” (Muslim)

We ask Allah Most High to clothe us inwardly and outwardly in beauty so that our hearts and limbs fall into true submission at all times, and so that we genuinely become “masajid” ourselves, or vessels of sincere, humble, perpetual worship.

And Allah alone gives success.

In this series of articles and podcasts, Ustadh Tabraze Azam discusses the meaning of adab and what it means for a Muslim to do things in the right way.

Adab 05: The Adab of the Mosque Pt I

Ustadh Tabraze Azam reminds us of the honor Allah has bestowed upon the mosque as a place of worship and the importance of right conduct in it.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said:

The most beloved of places to Allah are the mosques. (Muslim)

Indeed, the greatest of places on the face of the earth in the sight of Allah Most High is the mosque. What does it mean for a place to beloved to Allah? It means that He inscribes tremendous good for the people therein. And why are they beloved? Because they are places where the most supreme form of worship occurs, namely, scores of believing men and women planting their faces humbly in the ground before their All-Powerful Lord.

In another hadith, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, stated that the meadows of Paradise are the mosques themselves because they are the places where sincere, worshipful devotion occurs – the kind of devotion which leads to ultimate felicity.

The Centrality of the Mosque

The centrality of the mosque to everyday life for a Muslim can be ascertained from one of the first matters the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, engaged in upon reaching Madina, specifically, the founding and subsequent building of Masjid Quba’, and thereafter his own mosque, Allah bless him and give him peace.

The mosque, then, should be a beacon of light for the community: a haven in times of religious and worldly need, a shelter and refuge for the underprivileged and needy, a gathering-place for worship and devotion, a means of strengthening community ties and a place to beseech and long for the Divine.

As we continue to strive to put Allah first in our lives and become people grounded in Islam, inwardly and outwardly, we turn now to the proper manners and sunnas of the mosque. If we cannot make Islam work fully elsewhere just yet, then at the very least we can certainly strive our utmost in the place most beloved to Him.

There are a number of matters here which are worth highlighting, and accordingly, this first post will outline the first set of issues and a subsequent post will discuss the remainder.

The Prayer of Greeting the Mosque

In reality, this is a prayer of greeting the Lord of the mosque, and not merely the mosque itself, as places themselves aren’t greeted. The point is that you pray in the mosque in order to fulfill this right (haqq). The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “If you enter a mosque, then don’t sit until you have prayed two cycles.” (Bukhari)

Accordingly, any prayer prayed, whether specifically intended as the Prayer of Greeting the Mosque (tahiyyat al-masjid), a sunna prayer associated with the obligatory prayers, or even the obligatory, prescribed prayer itself, would fulfill this sunna. But remember that you cannot pray it during sunrise, midday and sunset, nor can you pray it after the obligatory dawn (fajr) or the mid-afternoon (‘asr) prayers.

If you enter the mosque, practically speaking, right before the midday (zuhr) or sunset (maghrib) prayers, you should instead recite some forms of remembrances (adhkar), such as glorification (tasbih), praise (tahmid) and utterances affirming the oneness of Allah Most High (tahlil). By the blessing (baraka) of such words and utterances, and the Grace of Allah Most High, you will attain the reward of the prayer and much more.

As an aside, note that the manner of greeting the Mosque of the Sacred Precinct (masjid al-haram) is to perform seven circuits of circumambulation (tawaf) around the Ka‘ba for the upon whom this is due or intends to perform it. This is a ruling specific to this blessed mosque partly because one of the greatest acts of worship a visitor can do there is the circumambulation.

The Sunna of I’tikaf

From the established sunna practices of our religion is to remain in the mosque for the spiritual retreat (i’tikaf). The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) would engage in this personal act of devotion yearly in the month of Ramadan. What the scholars have deduced is that this is an emphasised sunna (sunna mu’akkada) upon each and every community, namely, that they ensure there is at least one person performing the sunna spiritual retreat (i’tikaf) in the month of Ramadan.

The scholars explain that spiritual retreats can occur any time you enter the mosque. By merely intending it, you can obtain the reward for the retreat by merely being present in the mosque. This is a greater reward and station than someone who enters with the sole intention of prayer because you are engaged in a greater number of acts of devotion in every moment.

While in the retreat, the reward of all your acts of devotion are multiplied. Women can attain the same reward by intending the retreat as they enter their prayer areas at home- needless to say, they also attain the reward upon entry into a mosque.

Joining Congregations and Second Congregations

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed us regarding something of the meritorious nature of the prayer of those who join the imam at the opening takbir when he said that they will be written as those saved from the Fire of Hell. (Tirmidhi) If you join within the first cycle, yet after this point, it is effectively as if you caught the imam at the beginning. Joining after the opening takbir entails that the imam may have begun reciting, and as such, you would avoid reciting the opening invocation (thana’) as the duty when the imam is reciting aloud is to listen, and when quietly, to remain silent.

Next, you are only considered to have caught the cycle (rak’a) if you catch the imam whilst he is in the bowing position. In this, you can use your reasonable judgement to determine whether or not he was still minimally bowing – namely, closer to bowing than standing – when you joined him in the prayer. Thereafter, you would make up the cycles you missed after the imam’s final and closing salams, beginning with the opening invocation (thana’) just as you would normally begin a prayer.

As for formal second congregations, these are generally considered to be unwise, wrong and disliked. Rather, you would pray individually if you missed the congregational prayer. However, other scholars maintained that a second congregation is in fact acceptable if it is performed distinctly from the first, such as by praying away from the main prayer niche (mihrab) and without a call to prayer (adhan) and the like.

Similarly, you should use your common sense in deciding where to pray and how loud to pray. If there are other events occurring in the mosque at the same time, you should be courteous and respectful, given that you were late, and pray in lowered tones in a corner or outside the main hall.

Praying the Sunna Prayers

Usually, what is superior is to pray the sunna prayers before their respective obligatory, prescribed prayers at home. Excuses such as greater focus and less distraction may entail praying them in the mosque. In doing so, it is important to remember that if the imam has begun the congregational prayer, you should forfeit the sunna to join the congregation.

After the congregational prayer, you may make up the sunna of the midday (zuhr) prayer alone. The dawn (fajr) and midday (zuhr) prayers are the only times in which there is an emphasised sunna prayer before the obligatory prayer (‘asr and ‘isha have a recommended sunna respectively). Sunnas, generally speaking, aren’t made up except in exceptional circumstances.

The exception to the rule above is the sunna prayer connected to the obligatory dawn (fajr) prayer. In such a case, you would pray the sunna prayer, despite the ongoing congregation, as long as you will be able to catch the congregation before the imam says the closing salams. There is, however, an important, oft-forgotten sunna here, namely, that you should ensure to pray this prayer in a somewhat secluded spot, well away from the congregation itself.

There is a strong emphasis on unity and the mere resemblance of disunity (even though the person is doing something tremendous) is wrong, so much so, that if you cannot find an appropriate place to pray, the jurists informed us that the sunna prayer should be left altogether. Warding off harm takes precedence over the attainment of benefits, and this is something that we would all do well to take some time to consider.

We ask Allah Most High to grant us true openings and foresight by which we can perceive what will ultimately benefit us in this life and the next, and the ability to sincerely work righteous deeds in seeking Him, the Lord of Mercy, alone.

And Allah alone gives success.

In this series of articles and podcasts, Ustadh Tabraze Azam discusses the meaning of adab and what it means for a Muslim to do things in the right way.

Adab 04: The Adab of Homes – Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Ustadh Tabraze Azam writes on the adab or etiquette of the home – a blessing from Allah and a place of joy, safety, privacy, and prayer.

Allah has made your homes a place to rest, and has given you tents from the hide of animals, light to handle when you travel and when you camp. And out of their wool, fur, and hair He has given you furnishings and goods for a while. (Sura al Nahl 16:80)

Homes are havens of serenity and comfort. They are a shelter from the heat and cold. They offer privacy from the gaze of others, safety for belongings, protection from harmful animals, insects and the like, and many other benefits. They are truly a blessing.

Allah Most High reminds us at the end of the subsequent verse, “This is how He perfects His favor upon you, so perhaps you will fully submit to Him.” (Sura al Nahl 16:81) Namely, acknowledge the one who blessed you with all that you have, and worship Him alone with sincerity as He fulfilled even your most basic human needs by His Grace.

The famed Egyptian master of the inward and outward sciences, Ibn ‘Ata Illah al Sakandari, stated in an aphorism (hikma):

Whosoever isn’t grateful for His blessings makes himself liable to losing them. And whosoever is grateful for them has tied them down by their reins.

We also know that gratitude is directing blessings toward that for which they were created. There is much guidance from Allah and His messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, regarding the standards of Muslim homes, and gratitude entails that we strive to adorn our homes with these matters as much as reasonably possible. Gratitude is more than mere words.

A home that is adorned with Islam is a home which reminds of the delights of Paradise. Allah Most High says, “But those mindful of their Lord will have elevated mansions, built one above the other, under which rivers flow. That is the promise of Allah. And Allah never fails in His promise.” (Sura al Zamar 39:20)

The condition, here, is that these people were “mindful” of Allah. They made meaningful life decisions, and put Allah before all else. In seeking to become of those genuine, beloved, people of adab, we’ll be looking at some of these matters in this post.

Supplicating During Entering and Exiting

The Lady Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, told us that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to remember Allah “in all of his states.” (Muslim) It will probably take the rest of us a little practice to get to a stage where we are always remembering Allah, but we could do worse than recalling the blessed words of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, upon entering and exiting our homes. An easy way to learn these supplications is to write them down and put them beside the door.

Abu Dawud recorded that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to say upon leaving the house: “O Allah, I seek Your protection from going astray or leading others astray; from slipping or letting others slip; from being oppressed or oppressing others; and from acting ignorantly or others acting ignorantly towards me.” (Abu Dawud)

بسم اللهِ ، توكّلتُ على اللهِ ، اللهم إنّي أعوذ بك أن أضِلّ أو أُضَلّ ، أو أَزِلّ أو أُزَلّ ، أو أَظْلِمَ أو أُظْلَمَ، أو أَجْهَل أو يُجْهَل عليّ

And when he would enter, Allah bless him and give him peace, he would say, “O Allah, I ask You for the best entrance and the best exit. In the Name of Allah do we enter and in the Name of Allah do we leave, and in Allah, our Lord, do we trust.” (Abu Dawud)

اللَّهمَّ إنِّي أسالكَ خيرَ المولجِ وخيرَ المخرجِ باسمِ اللَّهِ ولجنا وباسمِ اللَّهِ خرجنا وعلى ربِّنا توَكلنا

Making a Prayer Space in the Home

Abu Dawud recorded a tradition in which the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, instructed that prayer spaces be made, according to some scholars, within homes, and that they are kept clean and perfumed. This is particularly useful for women as they can get the reward of a spiritual retreat (i’tikaf) whenever they step into such an area with an intention of such. But it is generally praiseworthy for both men and women to have a prayer space (musalla) in the home. The spiritual light (nur) of such spaces can affect the state of the entire home.

This can be an area in a room, or a standalone room itself. Sacred spaces like this facilitate focus in prayer and other devotional acts. For men, they should be primarily used for the non-obligatory prayers (sunna/nawafil). As for obligatory prayers, men are generally expected to pray them in congregation at the mosque, if reasonably possible. When it is difficult to do so, this space can be used for congregational prayers too. Women, on the other hand, may perform all of their prayers in this designated space.

Personal Spaces and Avoiding Solitude

Allah Most High says, “Believers, your slaves and any who have not yet reached puberty should ask your permission to come in at three times of day: before the dawn prayer; when you lay your garments aside in the midday heat; and after the evening prayer. These are your three times for privacy; at other times, there is no blame on you or them if you move around each other freely.” (Sura al Nur 24:58)

This verse points to the proper adab of private spaces- spaces which aren’t communal except at certain times of day. This is because it aids in avoiding that which is harmful (such as seeing nakedness) and teaching children and others about privacy which is what homes are all about.

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, one of the foremost of the Companions (sahaba) in stringently following the sunna of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, reported that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, interdicted “being alone and sleeping alone.” (Ahmad) Remaining with the group, or in good company, then, is a means of warding off feelings of loneliness or depression. Further, it can form the basis of uplifting support at home, as you’re less likely to engage in that which you wouldn’t otherwise do, and people who will help if you’re hit by hard times or sickness.

Family Time

One of the things the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, taught us is to have some moments together with the household. Abu Dawud reported that a group of people came to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, saying that they eat but don’t feel full. He responded, Allah bless him and give him peace, by stating, “Perhaps you’re eating separately?” to which they admitted as such.

“Gather together upon your food, mention the Name of Allah, and you will be blessed in it,” he replied, Allah bless him and give him peace, teaching us that there is a special secret of increase (baraka) in gathering for meals which facilitates righteous actions. Other traditions report that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “The most beloved of food is that which has the most hands in it.”

Planting Trees and Other Greenery

Imam Nawawi called one of his famed works Riyad al Salihin, which can be roughly understood as: “The lush green, river-filled gardens of the righteous.” There is something, then, other-worldly about greenery and natural beauty. In one tradition (hadith), the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, encouraged beautifying the earth so much so that he encouraged planting your seedling even if the Final Hour arrives. (Bukhari, Al Adab al Mufrad)

Similarly, he, Allah bless him and give him peace, also said, “There is no Muslim who plants a tree or sows a crop from which birds, man or beasts eat but that it is charity for him.”

There is also a Qur’anic imperative to cultivate the earth. Allah Most High says, “He is the One Who produced you from the earth and settled you on it.” (Sura Hud 11:61) “Settling” referring to the building on earth and cultivating its land with crops, trees and the like.

Beauty is the hallmark of a believer. Ao if you are able to adorn the garden of your home with greenery, or the inside your home if you don’t have a garden, in a dignified and manageable manner, then do so. Interestingly, studies have shown a positive correlation between greenery – essentially trees – and health. Thus, not only does such planting have a positive impact on yourself, it also impacts your neighbors and wider community.

Maintaining Cleanliness

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “The smallest branch [of faith] is removing something harmful from the pathway,” (Muslim) If this is the case with walkways and roads, then the same should apply to our very homes. The emphasis on cleanliness in our religion is not lost on anybody. The places where we eat, drink, sleep and worship should be preserved from that which is unclean or unbecoming. Ensuring that the home is free from bad odors, filth and anything distasteful should be a priority as it can affect the entire state of the home and its people. Further, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) told us, “Indeed, the angels find foul what humans find foul.” (Muslim)

In the same vein, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, also encouraged us to wash our hands after eating and to wipe our plates clean. (Abu Dawud) One of the wisdoms in this is that leaving such dishes in an unwashed state can attract harmful creatures such as pests. The general rule is that utensils should be taken care of before bed, except in cases where there is an excuse, need or benefit in doing otherwise.

Closing Doors, Turning off Appliances before Bed and Covering Food

Everything in the sunna has a benefit in both this life and the next. Jabir, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, ordered doors to be locked and children to be brought indoors when night falls because the “devils spread at that time.” (Bukhari) Children may often be too young to recite supplications of protection, and the devils are particularly active at this time, so they should be brought indoors until this time passes.

There is also an encouragement to cover food overnight. Bukhari related in the same tradition that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, told us to “cover our food containers and mention the Name of Allah.” He, Allah bless him and give him peace, was always watching out for his community (umma) out of love and concern for them, and that’s why he interdicted leaving an open flame running overnight. (Bukhari) In our times, this would apply to appliances and the like, unless there is reasonable surety of safety such as their being designed in such a manner.

Worship in the Home

Making the home a haven entails adorning it with that which Allah loves. When this happens, even the angels find tranquility in such a place. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, reminded us, “Don’t make your homes into graveyards. Indeed, the devil flees from a home in which Sura al Baqara is recited.” (Muslim) The traditions regarding daily litanies which are encouraged are too numerous to mention, but I’d advise getting a good book, memorizing a couple of supplications and bringing them into your daily routine.

Similarly, illuminating homes and bringing them to life is also a fulfillment of the prophetic encouragement where he, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Leave something of your prayers for your homes.” (Muslim) He also said, Allah bless him and give him peace, “The best of prayers is a person’s prayer in his home, except for the obligatory prayer.” (Bukhari) When worship is happening in the home, Islam is happening, and everybody, especially the children, see how we are supposed to return to Allah in our affairs and become pleasing servants.

Assisting in Good (Ta’awun)

Allah Most High said, “Bid your people to pray, and be diligent in observing it. We do not ask you to provide. It is We Who provide for you. And the ultimate outcome is only for the people of righteousness.” (Sura Ta Ha 20:132) And He Most High said regarding the Prophet Isma‘il (Allah bless him and give him peace) that he used to command “his household to pray and give alms, and his Lord was well pleased with him.” (Sura Maryam 19:55) The basis is that shepherds care about their respective flocks, and being religious begins at home.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, was also at the “service of his family” whilst at home, as Lady Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, informed us. (Bukhari) Undoubtedly, the nature of service within the home can be expressed in a multitude of ways, but the idea is that all are working together in their journey to Allah- here, by fulfilling the Divine Command to assist in the good.

A home is one of the greatest blessings of Allah Most High. Just ask somebody who lost one, was kicked out, or simply doesn’t have a roof over their head. We ask Allah Most High for protection, renewed resolve to follow the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and his way, and a state of deep belief and gratitude for His favors upon us. “Why should Allah punish you if you are grateful and faithful? Allah is ever Appreciative, All-Knowing.” (Sura al Nisa 4:147)

And Allah alone gives success.


In this series of articles and podcasts, Ustadh Tabraze Azam discusses the meaning of adab and what it means for a Muslim to do things in the right way.


Adab 03: The Etiquette of Allah’s Elect – Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Ustadh Tabraze Azam writes on the adab or etiquette of Allah’s elect among the scholars and students of knowledge as attested to by various sources.

In our desire to become true students, we have to uphold the kind of adab, or right etiquette, that colors Allah’s elect. People of knowledge are chosen by Allah Most High, and we cannot do anything more but to aspire to the way of those whose scholarship is recognized by one and all in the hope that we may become of them in our own distinct ways. It is reported that Imam Abu Hanifa said, “If the jurists (fuqaha) aren’t the elect (awliya’) of Allah, then Allah has no elect servant (wali).”

The one who acts according to his knowledge with sincerity is the true faqih, even if he knows only a little. What we see from the righteous, godfearing scholars is that they had a tremendous amount of adab in their seeking of sacred knowledge. Imam al Halwani, a giant of the early Hanafi tradition, famously remarked, “I’ve never touched even a piece of paper without wudu.” This was his state with that which will [eventually] contain knowledge, so what then of the knowledge itself? Being true students is a tall order, and we can only hope that if we traverse in the right direction with the right attitude, that Allah will complete this matter for us.

Continuing on from the last post, the following are the remaining points of adab which we can all strive to uphold in our respective journeys. Entire monographs (and commentaries!) have been written on the duty of upholding adab in seeking sacred knowledge, so keep in mind that this is a brief listing of some important points, and certainly not an exhaustive study.

Seeking Beneficial Knowledge and Practice

Beneficial knowledge is a light which Allah casts into the heart of the one who possesses it. This light brings about reverential awe (khashya) of the Divine which manifests upon the limbs and in the person’s character and dealings, transforming him into an “imam,” a leader to be followed and a prophetic inheritor. Thus, the fruits of your knowledge should be plain in the way you are. If you aren’t doing what you’ve learnt, there is a problem.

Sufyan ibn ‘Uyayna once remarked, “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, is the perfected criterion, and everything is measured against his character, disposition and guidance. Whatever corresponds to it is truth, and whatever contradicts it is falsehood.” The upshot is that beneficial knowledge is that which is transformative. It calls you to an increase in everything from righteous works to your state with Allah, and makes you put Allah first in life such that you see Him before you proceed with anything.

Humility and Saying “I don’t know”

Sajiqli Zada mentioned a report in his brilliant treatise, Tartib al ‘Ulum, where he says that our master ‘Ali, may Allah ennoble his face, was asked a question whilst he was upon the pulpit and he responded with, “I don’t know.” He was told that this isn’t where you should be standing if you don’t know the answer. So he remarked, “This is where you stand if you know things and don’t know others. As for somebody who [thinks he] knows everything, he has no place.” Such a person is all dressed up for people, with no place to go.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “No servant ever humbled himself before Allah Most High except that He raised him.” (Muslim) Imam Shafi‘i stated that he saw Imam Malik being asked forty-eight questions to which he responded to thirty-two of them by saying, “I don’t know.” What this should teach us is that there is no shame in not knowing something. Rather, it is shameful to respond when you don’t know. Studying is a lifelong journey and the religion is deep and vast, so take your time and avoid making false claims.

Good Companions

Allah Most High said, “O believers! Be mindful of Allah and be with the truthful.” (Sura al Tawba 9:119) And the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “A person is on the religion of his close companion, so let each of you look well to whom he takes as a close companion.” (Tirmidhi; Abu Dawud)

Companionship (suhba) is important (we’ll be looking at this in more detail in a future article, insha’Allah). Ibn Jama‘a noted that “dispositions take from one another.” Naturally, then, a student of knowledge would do well to surround himself and keep the close companionship of those who will increase his state, either in knowledge or character, or some other virtuous trait like his work-ethic or resolve. The simple idea is that when you see hardworking people, for example, you are more likely to work hard.

Gratitude and Honoring Knowledge and Its Folk

One of the secrets of Divine Increase is sincere gratitude to Allah. Whether you understood the lesson or you didn’t understand, be grateful for the opportunity and what little you did understand, even if only the words themselves (and not the meanings intended), and you will see an increase. Allah Most High says, “If you show gratitude, I will surely increase you.” (Sura Ibrahim 14:7) If you strive with sincerity and are truly grateful, you can be sure to receive a tremendous windfall.

Gratitude, namely, directing blessings toward that for which they were created, includes benefiting from people of knowledge. But in doing so, we need to give scholars of sacred knowledge the respect and honor they deserve by being inheritors of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. This sense of veneration (ta‘dhim) is a duty of those seeking closeness to Allah. As one of the elect said, “Nobody deems the rank and worth of the elect of Allah to be tremendous, except somebody who is of tremendous rank and worth with Allah.”

Allah Is the Giver

This is a return to the point we began with: Allah chooses beneficial knowledge for those He wishes. As we learn from our studies in Theology (‘aqida), there is no necessary correlation between cause and effect. Allah is the creator of everything, and He gives to whosoever He wills. Studying day and night for a decade doesn’t necessarily make a deeply learned person, just as studying on weekends for a decade doesn’t make a well-educated Muslim. Of course, this is usually the case, but the point is that these matters are means which are necessary, but not intrinsically relied upon.

Hence, we should focus our hearts on Allah in our seeking, and not busy ourselves with knowledge from Allah who is the point from beginning to end. If knowledge isn’t making you more Allah-centered, then it is not true knowledge. When somebody remarked to Imam Ahmad that Ma‘ruf al Karkhi, an early ascetic, scholar in his own right, and deeply devotional man, wasn’t very [outwardly] knowledgeable (in comparison to those who were busy with knowledge, but missing the greater point!), he said: “Be quiet! May Allah pardon you. Is the point of knowledge anything other than what Ma‘ruf attained unto?”

May Allah Most High bless us with an ever-increasing state of adab in all our affairs, deep gratitude which He is pleased with, and a heart which can discern truth from falsehood by His Grace. “Our Lord! Grant us mercy from Yourself and guide us rightly through our ordeal.” (Sura al Kahf 18:10)

In this series of articles and podcasts, Ustadh Tabraze Azam discusses the meaning of adab and what it means for a Muslim to do things in the right way.

Adab 02: Seeking Sacred Knowledge – Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Ustadh Tabraze Azam delves into the necessary adab for the student seeking sacred knowledge based on Revelation, Hadith, and advice from Scholars and sages of Islam.

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

“Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim,” said the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Namely, learning specifically that by which you can validate your religious obligations is a duty which none are exempt from. Beyond that, however, we enter the realm of those who want to learn and apply the Divine Address more fully. In doing so, there are duties and manners which need to be upheld in order to truly benefit from a share of the prophetic inheritance.

The famous sage and scholar, Ibn ‘Ata’ Illah al Iskandari, may Allah sanctify his secret, remarked in an aphorism: “If sacred knowledge is accompanied with reverential awe (khashya) [of the divine], it will be for you. Otherwise, it will count against you.” Knowledge, thus, brings about a weighty responsibility and essentially entails carrying something of the prophetic message. Naturally, the expectation for those who carry it and have been honored with it isn’t the same as that for others.

At the end of the day, this matter is about you and your Lord. It is not about test scores, refutations or knowing more than others. This realization should bring about in us a sense of reverence for what this is and what it is for, namely, worship. If sacred knowledge isn’t transforming us and altering our very being, it is time for some introspection.

A good start, then, is to remind ourselves of the adab, or proper duties and manners, to be upheld in studying and seeking. This is what we’ll be striving to remind ourselves of here, insha’Allah.

Intention and Sincerity

It cannot be lost on any of us that the point of learning what Allah Most High and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, commanded is to actually do what they said. Accordingly, the primary intention in one’s seeking should be to please Allah Most High alone. A reminder of this point is the verse, “they were only commanded to worship Allah alone with sincere devotion to Him in all uprightness.” (Sura al Bayyina 98:5) Learning is worship when it is for Allah. But worship only truly takes place when there is knowledge.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Actions are only by their intentions, and each person shall get whatever they intend.” He also said, Allah bless him and give him peace: “The intention of a believer is greater than his action.”

This gives us something to be hopeful for because even if our studies never fully kick off, we will be rewarded in accordance with our intention and not what actually happened. But take your first step with the right intention, and ask Allah to take care of the rest for you.

Priorities and Focus

Khatib al-Baghdadi relates from Qadi Abu Yusuf, the most senior companion of Imam Abu Hanifa, that he remarked that “Knowledge is something which will not give you even a part of itself until you give it all of yourself. And even if you give it all of yourself, it may not give you anything at all.”

What he is telling us here is that you will not attain unto this sacred knowledge until you give it all you’ve got of your time and energy. Essentially, it cannot be a mere hobby, but something taken very seriously.

Now, this is obviously with respect to somebody on the road to becoming a scholar, but the same can be applied to somebody merely seeking to learn something of their religion. If you are listening to recordings or attending live sessions, don’t browse the internet, update your social media, have a conversation, sleep (!) or do anything which indicates a lack of sincere concern and interest.

If you want to learn, you have to give what you’ve got. Anything worth having takes time and effort, and gaining sacred knowledge is no different.


Consulting is imperative for anybody seeking to traverse the path of the righteous scholars of the past. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, indicated this “trodden path” in the famous tradition (hadith) of seeking knowledge. It should be noted that consultation in this context would refer to a variety of matters, but what is of primary concern here, is to consult regarding from whom knowledge should be taken. Clearly, there is a difference between a caller (da‘i) and a scholar (‘alim/shaykh), and you should know well how to benefit from both.

Imam Shatibi demarcated what should be sought of in a teacher of sacred knowledge. If any of these matters are missing, you should be wary of taking from such a person. One: he acts in accordance with his knowledge. Two: his knowledge is taken from genuine scholars. Three: he follows the way of those he took from.

The point of consultation is to ask somebody knowledgable, righteous and trustworthy about the wisdom in undertaking whatever you are about to do. If you don’t know who to ask, you should read about the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and the way he was, and ask the person that most resembles what you read.


As ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-San‘ani said: “Every type of knowledge which doesn’t enter the lavatory with you isn’t real knowledge.” This doesn’t mean you should take your library into the restroom! Rather, the sign of knowledge is mastery and memorization such that you don’t need your books to explain the point. Others have noted this as “students of the day” and “students of the night.” The former require light to look in their books, but the latter aren’t in need of them. Imam Ghazali reportedly learnt this the hard way when his books were stolen from him on a journey.

The early Muslims would learn prophetic traditions and the religion in general by taking something small and applying it in their lives until it became second nature to them. There are two lessons we can take away from this. Firstly, memorization needn’t be specifically rote, but anything by which you can learn the details would be considered memorization.

Secondly, you need to be gradual and practical in your learning. If you jump ahead to commentaries, glosses or specialized sciences, you will simply get lost in a sea of knowledge. Rather, the first step is to learn the most important rulings, and then to grow in knowledge by consulting with those who have already traversed the path. There is much that can be said here, but we’ll suffice with this, insha Allah.

Preparation and Review

This is an extension of the previous point. The only way to become a person of knowledge, namely, scholarly in the outward sense, is to take the means of mastery. What this practically entails is that you prepare for your classes by, at the very least, going over the material you’ll be covering. This process of preparation, when done right, is extremely beneficial. Similarly, reviewing the material after the lesson, or ideally, discussing it with your fellow classmates, if any, is very important as it helps to actually consolidate the material covered.

The idea is to ensure that you are always actively engaging with the material. Knowledge cannot simply be deposited into you. “Seeker” is an active participle. It entails that some effort and action is going into the matter. Any manner of fulfilling this which demonstrably works would be acceptable, but the key is to have something in place. Again, there are many specifics which have been left out here, but hopefully the idea is plain.

We ask Allah Most High to facilitate for us His Good Pleasure in this life before the next, and that He bless us with the tremendous gift of true knowledge and practice so that we may be with those He loves.

“And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger will be in the company of those blessed by Allah: the prophets, the people of truth, the martyrs, and the righteous — what honorable company!” (Sura al Nisa 4:69)

And Allah alone gives success.

In this new series of articles and podcasts, Ustadh Tabraze Azam discusses the meaning of adab and what it means for a Muslim to do things in the right way.

Adab 01: The Art of Doing Things Right – Introduction

In this new series of articles and podcasts, Ustadh Tabraze Azam discusses the meaning of adab and what it means for a Muslim to do things in the right way.

In the Name of Allah Most Merciful, Most Compassionate.

Zakariyya al Ansari, the great polymath, shaykh al Islam of his time, and teacher and guide to generations of scholars, wrote in his masterful commentary on Qushayri’s Epistle on Tasawwuf: “The goodly life (al hayat al tayyiba) is only attained by bringing the heart to life,” pointing to the Qur’anic verse:

Whoever does good, whether male or female, and is a believer, We will surely bless them with a good life, and We will certainly reward them according to the best of their deeds. (16:97)

Hearts come to life when they are watered with the divine breezes and revelatory springs of guidance embodied by the beloved Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace. From the tremendously grand to the seemingly mundane, our religion teaches us how to live a life pleasing to Allah Most High.

And herein lies the ultimate goal of those nigh unto Allah Most High: the desire to respond, “O believers! Respond to Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life.” (8:24) The desire to be pleasing: “Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him.” (98:8) The desire to worship: “I did not create jinn and humans except to worship Me.” (51:56)

Worship entails humbly seeking Allah Most High in all of one’s affairs. Yet, what the scholars remind us time and time again is that you do not need to be standing on the prayer mat to be in a state of continual worship. Rather, merely altering an intention, for example, can change something otherwise permissible into an act of worship.

Reorienting Our Point and Realities

What this series of articles aims to do, with the permission of Allah Most High, is to highlight the sunna of the sunna, namely, the manners or decorum of undertaking different matters in life. It hopes to point out ways in which you can seek Allah Most High in your day to day life. In Islamic parlance, this is termed adab, which is, essentially, the right way of doing something.

Adab, from the Arabic root a-da-ba, linguistically contains an idea of propriety or correction. Munawi further explains that adab is actually “training the self and attaining gracious character traits.” Hence, any form of action that brings about a religiously praiseworthy outcome, or causes somebody to exhibit gracious traits, is termed adab.

The reality of adab, thus, is that it is a manifestation of gracious character (al khuluq al hasan) about which the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “The most perfect of believers in faith are the most gracious of them in character.” (Tirmidhi, Al Jami‘)

Allah Most High says regarding His messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, “And you are truly a man of outstanding character.” (68:4) And in speaking of this station himself, it is reported that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, remarked, “My Lord taught me adab.” (Even if the wording here isn’t soundly established, its meaning, however, is.)

Adab and Fiqh

What we can sometimes forget in our seeking to apply the law (fiqh) we are taught is that the religion must be taken as an organic whole. Fiqh cannot be divorced from the sunna of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and the high moral and ethical standard he displayed, upheld and encouraged. If fiqh is to be truly and soundly applied and understood, it must necessarily correspond to the way of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, fully. Anything that ignores the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is not true religion (deen), but merely a wrongful claim to the treasures of prophetic inheritance (wiratha nabawiyya).

Manners, and sunnas generally, are important because these are the matters which beautify actions to the point where they begin to actually resemble the guidance of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. This is why it is reported that one of the early righteous, Ruwaym, may Allah sanctify his secret, advised, using the similitude of bread: “Make adab your flour and actions your salt” – indicating the proportions required of each in order to make something that tastes like bread, and for our purposes, something that looks like Prophetic guidance.

In pointing to this reality, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “None of you truly believes until his very desire is in accordance with that which I have brought.” (Nawawi, Al Arba‘un, relaying from Maqdisi’s Al-Hujja). Missing his way is missing the point and the essential nature of his message.

True Adab

The master of the spiritual path, Imam Junayd al Baghdadi, may Allah sanctify his secret, stated in an aphorism: “Slavehood (‘ubudiyya) is holding fast to adab.” So we ask Allah Most High that He bless us with true adab. An adab which befits those who are striving to seek Him in their affairs. The kind of adab which colors His elect. And an adab by which we win unto His Divine Pleasure in this life before the next. Amin.

In the coming articles, we’ll be looking at some of the proper manners to be upheld in a variety of different circumstances, such as, seeking sacred knowledge, reciting and dealing with the Qur’an, supplicating, earning a living, fulfilling rights, disagreeing, and manners related to homes and mosques.

And Allah alone gives success.

In this new series of articles and podcasts, Ustadh Tabraze Azam discusses the meaning of adab and what it means for a Muslim to do things in the right way.



Habib Ali Al-Jifri on Madiba Nelson Mandela’s Passing

Habib Ali al-Jifri, founder of Tabah Foundation is a scholar and spiritual educator from Hadramawt, Yemen. He recently responded to the death of South African former President, Madiba Nelson Mandela.
He wrote his response in Arabic:  (Image) from his twitter account.
Reaction to Mandela’s death
Mandela has returned to his Lord and He knows best his final state.
The world has become concerned about practically benefiting from the values he embraced and successfully propagated. And some have become preoccupied with the question: “Is it permissible to say ‘God have mercy upon him’ after mentioning his name?”!
As the Arabs say, “This is not how you train and discipline the camel” (i.e. this is not how things ought to be.)
Recognising Mandela’s Efforts
The values that Nelson Mandela upheld should not be restricted to his struggle against apartheid in South Africa because he was preceded in this by the struggles of Abdullah Harun, an imam who died after being tortured in prison by the regime. Rather, the greatest value that Mandela brought to life was that he taught his people, in fact, taught the entire modern world, how a victorious leader should show amnesty and overlook those who aggress and inflict pain upon them. He showed how a leader can help his people surpass the difficulty of the past to build for a common future in a time in which we’ve forgotten the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) to the non-believers of Quraysh, those who inflicted torment and harm upon him (Allah bless him and give him peace) and his companions, “Go, for you are free.”
Responding to his death, as Muslims
Mandela also lived the idea of a global humanitarianism. He was not confined to the affairs of his own people but sympathized with the pain of the oppressed wherever they may be, and without discriminating against them on the basis of colour, ethnicity, country, or religion. He supported the Palestinian cause, worked to resolve the conflict in Burundi, and stood against American occupation of Iraq in a time in which we’ve forgotten that our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) stood for a Jewish funeral procession. When someone said, “He was a Jew,” the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied, “Was he not a person?”
Following the Prophetic response
And we’ve forgotten that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) commended the hilf al-fudul, a pre-Islamic treaty ratified to help the oppressed and promote justice. He (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “I was a witness to the ratification of an alliance in the house of Abdullah son of Jad`an that was more precious to me than a herd of red camels. If I was called to it in Islam, I would have responded.”